Due to a large number of requests from pet owners, the Rosselkhoznadzor-subordinate FGBI “Federal Center for Animal Health” informs about the possibility of conducting diagnostic tests of biological material samples obtained from animals for detection of the novel coronavirus infection (COVID-19).
Test kits developed at the FGBI “Federal Center for Animal Health” will be used for testing.
The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) does not currently recommend large-scale studies. At the same time, the OIE considers it necessary to apply a risk-based approach to assess and reduce the risks of the emerging disease during the human-animal-environment interaction.
Thus, the reason for testing may be, first of all, a close contact of the animal with a human infected with COVID-19. In addition, testing is recommended for animals showing clinical signs of a respiratory disease caused by COVID-19: nasal discharge, shortness of breath, cough, vomiting, or gastrointestinal disorder.
The decision on animal testing is made by representatives of the state veterinary service of the Subject of the Russian Federation or by the pet owner after consultation with the state/official veterinarian. Samples for laboratory tests shall be collected by a veterinarian of the state veterinary service of the Subject of the Russian Federation.
Testing is conducted on a commercial basis.
For diagnostic testing, the institution will implement the Rosselkhoznadzor-developed recommendations for the collection, storage and transportation of animal biomaterial samples, which regulate the work activity in general and ensure the safety of employees and the use of personal protective equipment.
As COVID-19 infection spreads in human population, there still remains the possibility of animal infection as a result of close contact with infected humans. To date, a number of coronavirus infection cases in domestic dogs and cats, tigers and lions kept in the zoo, minks on two fur farms have been notified to the OIE.
In addition, researchers from the Veterinary Research Institute subordinated to the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Harbin) found that the coronavirus does not infect pigs, poultry (chickens and ducks), but affects ferrets, cats, and dogs. The Chinese veterinarians came to the conclusion that cats are the most susceptible to COVID-19 among the studied animals, they may show clinical signs of the disease, and in some cases demonstrate severe symptoms.
However, according to the official position of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), at present there is no evidence of the possibility of COVID-19 infection in humans transmitted from pet animals (dogs, cats). The spread of the disease, according to the WHO and the OIE, is mainly due to direct transmission of the virus from human to human. There is no reason for taking measures with regard to domestic or wild animals that could compromise well-being and health of the latter or may have a negative impact on biodiversity.